Tag Archives: Earthquake

The new disaster movie

Yup, we all have seen them, buildings on fire (Towering inferno), silly snappers with appetite (Jaws), Catching your stones (Deep Impact), shaking your love (Earthquake), warming up the neighbourhood (Dante’s Peak), or solving the greenhouse effect (The Day after tomorrow), yes we have more likely than not seen at least one of them, especially when we still have our 2012 diary set to that day in December. And we all love these movies, especially when it is a fight of man (or woman) against nature, the person becomes the automated underdog and we know the we really do not have a chance, especially those who remember Will Yun Lee in San Andreas. Nature is a bitch any given day of the week.

So what happens when we take the premise and really give you a nightmare scenario? The idea popped up when I was looking to the absolute lack of intelligence coming from the Oval Office. So when we got the quote “Well, we’ll have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster”, it was at that moment when I remember a situation in history, you might have heard of it, a guy named Nero and what he decided to do to Rome. It was at that moment when the mind started to think things through.
For your consideration

The setting is given to us in a stage where a person is opted to join Google and offers for sale all his 5G IP (let’s just pretend that is me, it is an ego thing) and it goes better than the main character ever considered. He is promptly paid the initial fee ($25,000,000 post taxation up front) and he hands over the IP, all of it and it is a winner, Google learns where they forgot to look and the main character gets a hell of a lot more than even he considered ($12B pre taxation), so as the IP becomes all Google, the main character heads for a nice early retirement with the largest golden parachute in history. Yet the people around him take notice, Russian organised crime, greed hungry bankers (a reference to HSBC) and they gang up on him, in this even American politicians and members of the CIA take care to snap up what they can and he ends up with nothing. This sets in motion a wave of rage never seen before and the silly criminals are all laughing, because they got the cash. But the creative mind goes to town and vows vengeance. He sets the stage with access to a larger NBC arsenal. Into the stage where he unleashes 13 nuclear sites, most of them near the spaces of the criminals, now suddenly everyone is crying like little bitches and how unfair it all is, but the main character is beyond caring, he sees the ultimate equaliser, it is loss, when the criminals and the corrupt are confronted with the loss of everything THEY care for, the need for a compromise by the criminals and politicians alike. He then sets on a larger binge, even as some think that they have a handle, he starts with the Nuclear bombing of Grand Coulee, Palo Verde, W. A. Parish, Monroe, Bath County, and Peach Bottom. These 6 changes the power options to the largest extent and no matter how great their protection was, having a 2 megaton bomb explode next to it renders such a place decently useless. At the same setting he sets of the 4 bombs near the goons responsible for being playing bad Santa to the main character, taking care of Chicago, San Francisco, San Antonio and Miami, the last to go off in Virginia setting the FBI and the CIA in a stage where they have nowhere to go. It is not the end, the Russian criminals are now in a stage where the law and a few hundred thousand Americans are hunting them down. As the rage in the main character goes on, we see the he had set the stage before the first nuclear bomb went off, where he had ‘liberated’ a few really nasty bedfellows. The bombs made reporting the issue a non-option, but as the nation is learning what had happened, the main character had seen everything taken away from him. He releases the diseases in Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles and Jacksonville. The panic is now complete, as all plead for a compromise, we see the person put a gun towards his mouth, whispers ‘I will all see you soon’ whilst in the background a mustard gas bomb the size of a fuel bomb goes off, he swallows the barrel and pulls the trigger. We will vows that this will never be a reality, yet when we sit at home and we see ‘HSBC Stock Pummelled by Financial Crimes Report’ with the additional “hit by the fallout from revelations of the bank’s involvement in facilitating criminal activities” which happened three days ago. Crime and opportunity seekers tend to go after the people they think are weak, so what do you think happens when they go after the wrong person? This is not nature that you cannot stop, that opponent is still for the most predictable, it is the person that loses his or her mind, that person becomes unreasonable and unpredictable.

It becomes even more fun when we realise the HSBC was not alone, it is not. The Guardian reported three years ago ‘British banks handled vast sums of laundered Russian money’, am I still dreaming? Greed is like mother nature, it is predictable, and I do believe that insurmountable loss is the only thing the corrupt and the greed driven truly fear. The corrupt tend to think the it is for a greater good, you only have to blow away their children in front of a corrupt person to see their armour dent permanently. In that do you think that a person losing billions will listen to reason? Especially when government officials are involved? You might think that this will never happen, did you? But that is probably what you thought of banks as well. Greed has no limits, neither does rage and in this it tends to be a fight to behold, especially as unbridled rage equals a volcano or a meteorite that is on a path, neither of them ever wavers.

So yes, we can all agree with President Trump on “we’ll have to see what happens”, however do you want to be there when things go ballistic? I certainly don’t, but then this was merely a small movie idea, just like ‘How to assassinate a politician’, which I wrote about in ‘Sweden has it too’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/08/30/sweden-has-it-too/), I wonder if the people in the Critical Incident Analysis Group – CIAG (University of Virginia) the people who give us “But we are wrong about that. Mass shootings are not unstoppable, and there are people trying to stop them. They are not even inexplicable, because every time Trunk hears of one he understands why it happened and who did it”, I wonder where they were when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold decided to throw a little party at the Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. 12 students and one teacher did not make it out and there is every indiction that the damage could have been much worse. So what happens when you push a person over the brink, a person that designed a solution the 114 thousand people at Google had not considered. Sundar Pichai might be one of the 100 most influential people n the planet, but no one will blame him for not considering everything. So when the person with the one original idea goes nuts, what will the impact be? I believe it could be the disaster movie of the decade, a step on the chessboard that none of the hundred think tanks in the US can consider, they are not ready for the parameters and in that meantime the most damage is incurred.

Well, that is my sense of humour satisfied, have a nice weekend and sweet dreams, don’t think too much of the power station near you, any of them have at least 4 flaws that they all forgot to report on.

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A shaky Farce Majeure

I got confronted with two news items today, the weirdest part is that the source is the Daily Mail (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4717082/Chaos-British-holidaymakers-killer-earthquake.html), which is upsetting to some degree. The news started with the earthquake on Kos last week, a shaking that extended all the way to Crete. Now, as the building laws are on Crete, the news of the earthquake was not one that shook me, the people there know it, yet the strength was stronger than usually dealt with. OK, so far no biggie as news goes. Yet, the initially not highly regarded headline became ‘Thomson REFUSES to refund terrified holidaymaker and his family as they try to cancel their trip to Kos amid earthquake chaos‘, which woke me up. This is not the first time that travel agencies are frowned upon, so I decided to take another look. Justin Curtis who wrote this is pounding on a few items that are actually bigger news than most realise.

Now apart from the news you are about to see, there is a few matters that we need to consider, and I will get to them shortly. First we see “Brits due to go to region say they are being told they cannot have a refund“, I’ll tell you another one, they are still offering these trips online, so I could fly out Saturday at £3275 for a fortnight, by the way a comparable trip with a 5 star hotel booked in the Netherlands is €1048 (£937), which is a totally absurd difference (it included the flight, so ordering the trip in the Netherlands, or book it online and take an additional Euro trip train could save you £2300 (minus the two train tickets), so in light of the prices Thomson is pretty ridiculous. In addition, Thomson proclaims to be an ABTA member (shown on their website), With ABTA we see “Clients’ Options on Cancellation 3B) If they are Principals who cancel previously confirmed Travel Arrangements, inform Agents and direct Clients without delay and offer Clients the choice of: i) alternative Travel Arrangements if available; or ii) a full refund of all monies paid. Such refunds shall be sent to Agents and direct Clients without delay.

Now, this is only one part, in addition we see:

3D) Not make a significant alteration to Travel Arrangements less than 14 days before the departure date of the Travel Arrangements unless it is necessary to do so as a result of Force Majeure.

I think that we can agree that an Earthquake is as Force Majeure as it gets.

There are rules of compensation for part, in case it was not a Force Majeure. So in light of what I see, Thomson might be in a lot more trouble than they think they are.

It was merely a first part, the fact that Thomson kept the lines open for flights this coming Saturday indicates just how insensitive they are to their clients. If the Daily Mail is to be believed, we should also consider their website. When we see: “We’re part of TUI Group – one of the world’s leading travel companies. And all of our holidays are designed to help you Discover Your Smile.” You have to wonder how they will address the issues as given with “Some laid down on the grass after they were denied entry to the airport, with staff limiting the number of people allowed inside due to its small size“, which for safety reasons makes perfect sense, in addition we see “I said I wanted my money back but they told me no and that it was safe. But Kos is not going to be rebuilt in a week and I asked if they could guarantee me the buildings there and my hotel were structurally sound and they couldn’t“, from a torts point of view, Thomson now might have an expensive legal issue evolving at their front door, one that they cannot defer under ABTA, This case could get us to Donoghue v Stevenson. Ms Donoghue claimed compensation for illness, after she consumed a ginger beer containing a decomposed snail, in a public house in Paisley, Scotland. This is the first case of Torts, as Thomson is now quoted to have stated that Kos is Safe, if any mishap comes from the trip, the family could sue as there is news and evidence on the dangers. Kathmiri, the Greek news source gives that dozens of buildings are at present unsafe with dozens more not yet investigated, so Thomson was THIS negligent? The question becomes why Thomson has become this negligent whilst the ABTA code of conduct is pretty clear in section 3 on those who have booked, yet not yet travelled. They could have faced praise and clientele as they bended over backwards by offering and working towards alternative solutions for scores of travellers, now they could get into a lot of hot water. The diverted Ferry service is only a small issue, the reason why it was diverted is the real danger as some quays are actually ripped from the road, making for unsafe conditions. This issue goes beyond the Tsunami that came, yet in all this the complications from electricity, sewage and heat will go up and could potentially create additional hazards for some time, we cannot state how long or how realistic these dangers would be, but they will be there. If essential parts are fixed within a month it would be a small miracle, a given that no one should bank on. For Kos, this could not have happened at a worst time, the summer is the height of their annual tourism income flow. July-September is essential to the people on Kos and Crete; as such Kos might get a big blow in a time when the Greek economy could afford it the least. So back to Torts, we have basically shown a Duty of Care and now we get to Breach of Duty, so as we get to the ‘reasonable man‘ test, would a reasonable man send another person into an earthquake stricken place for a family holiday (or any holiday?), if we consider a reasonable safe environment (especially) for children, Thomson could be seen as the reckless endangering element to the health of these children on that vacation. As such, they might state, the people could have decided not to go. In this a step towards criminal law is that the vacation is a product (or service), so as we see product liability we get “Anyone who is harmed by an unsafe product could sue. They can begin their court case up to three years from the date of the injury. In some cases, they can even sue up to ten years after the product was sold“, it is a thin line, yet with these bulk vacations, the minimum amount of people for a class action should be easily reached, especially when there are torts exploiters (they do exist). Consider that the vacation is a product that is offered, in such we could go towards the ‘Guide to the Consumer Protection Act 1987‘, where we see “In the past those injured had to prove a manufacturer negligent before they could successfully sue for damages. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 removes the need to prove negligence. A customer can already sue a supplier, without proof of negligence, under the sale of goods law. The Act provides the same rights to anyone injured by a defective product, whether or not the product was sold to them“, in addition, there is “Liability under the Act extends to components and raw materials. If a finished product contains a defect in a particular component, both the manufacturer of the finished product and the component manufacturer may be liable“, which is interesting, so any item on the package sold to the tourist might be up for instigating the damage compensation track, so not merely the hotel, any excursion sold to the tourist could start liability at this stage. So how defective is this product?

Well the act gives us “A defective product is defined as one where the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect” and according to the Daily Mail, the people at Thomson proclaimed that Kos was safe, so in light of damaged quays, collapsed buildings with rubble all over the street, when the light goes a little low, spraining an ankle would be the easiest part in the entire equation and the elements to sue have been met, after which the liability track could commence. All because Thomson stated according to the Daily Mail source: “Gary Taylor, left, is due to fly to Kos with wife Katy and daughter Summer, pictured, next week but said he wanted to cancel due to safety fears, only to be told by Thomson he ‘could not have the £2,800 cost refunded due to terms and conditions’ of the deal“, yet this is opposed by ABTA code of conduct section 3b and 3d. And ABTA went one step further by giving within the definition of a Force Majeure as “circumstances where performance and/or prompt performance of the contract is prevented by reasons of unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the Principal, the consequences of which could not have been avoided even if all due care had been exercised“. Such circumstances include a natural disaster, so when were earthquakes and Tsunamis not natural disasters? If the Daily Mail is correct, this Force Majeure is making Thomson look like a Farce Majeure, the one place where booking a holiday might not be the best idea, not just for the prices stated.

Yet in the sidelines we also read “Thomson is offering alternative holidays for those due to travel to Kos or Bodrum should they no longer wish to“, which is one offer that ABTA clearly allows for, yet when we see at the Code of Conduct at 3B.ii “a full refund of all monies paid. Such refunds shall be sent to Agents and direct Clients without delay“, the issue of asking a few more questions to the top of Thomson seems a warranted issue to pursue.

The final part that rocked me is that there is at present no ombudsman for travels, something I actually never considered not existing, when we see that a trip per person could be in advance of £2500 and there are 8,000 UK travellers stranded on Kos, is it not weird that one event, representing £20m is not properly protected? Not merely for the traveller, to some extent to protect the travel agency as well? Is such a voluntary code legally enforceable? Well, that is actually the issue, I am not certain in the UK law settings, in Australia, the case in the Victorian Supreme Court named National Australia Bank Ltd v Rose [2016] VSCA 169 gives us “The Voluntary Banking Code in question stated that NAB had to give Mr Rose “prominent notice of various matters” before taking a guarantee from him. Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justice Stephen McLeish of the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed NAB’s appeal of the original case: “We would respectfully agree with the trial judge’s conclusion that those clauses of the Banking Code had contractual force as terms of the guarantee at issue.”“, I reckon that the UK might find against Thomson travel agency if it gets sued, there is a decent chance that the judges will see the voluntary code of conduct, which seems to be used at times as a marketing presentation on the travellers rights as a mandatory setting regarding the terms of guarantee, or as a Terms of Service, in equal measure, in light of what I have found so far Thomson made a few blunders, several on the same day as their terms of service are seen. I also reckon that Thomson might be the only one visible now, but this issue could hit any agency that has some mention of ABTA in their sales prospectus or website and not offer a decent alternative or a full refund.

 

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